Saturated vs desaturated images.

There was an interesting side discussion in the Sigma 85 1.4 thread... I thought it warranted a more detailed ponder.. (Yes i just watched Luke Cage ;-) )

Anyway ... There are some people who are well known for cranking up the Saturation (till it hurts) ... ;-)
I guess it for the "Pop" ? and I think its kind of a rite of passage that we go through as photographers (HDR anyone!!)
I think I over saturate many times... so

Why do people Saturate?
When to Saturate and when not to ?
Does saturation give an ambience ? what is it saying ? how does it make the audience feel.. ?
what about de-saturation? What does that say? How does it make the audience feel..?
Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

Comments

  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    There are times when nature is color saturated. Sunsets, rainforests, creatures with bright colors to attract a mate immediately come to mind. There are times where nature desaturates, such as during a snowstorm, a dusty desolate environment, or a moonlit night.
    Usually I'm trying to reproduce what's in my head of what I remember the scene actually looking like.

    PAUL SIMON
    Kodachrome Lyrics

    When I think back
    On all the crap I learned in high school
    It's a wonder
    I can think at all
    And though my lack of education
    Hasn't hurt me none
    I can read the writing on the wall

    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day
    I got a Nikon camera
    I love to take a photograph
    So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

    If you took all the girls I knew
    When I was single
    And brought them all together for one night
    I know they'd never match
    My sweet imagination
    Everything looks worse/better in black and white

    Kodachrome
    They give us those nice bright colors
    They give us the greens of summers
    Makes you think all the world's a sunny day
    I got a Nikon camera
    I love to take a photograph
    So mama don't take my Kodachrome away

    Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
    Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
    Mama don't take my Kodachrome away
    ...
  • flipflip Posts: 99Member
    Maybe this discussion could be broadened to include custom and preset profiles, and pro post processing approaches, in a new forum thread?

    I shoot primarily natural light and saturation is the last slider for me to touch since, as below,i have usually formulated levels before post.

    I agree with PB that working each individual color level while tracking histogram changes is the ultimate way to control output.

    A few thoughts:

    David English a mostly B&W output Leica user has a somewhat novel approach. He will start by completely desaturating DNG files, modifying and enhancing the resulting monochrome image to his liking as if it were going to end up as B&W, then gradually bringing back color saturation just to where color starts to take over the image. A very interesting approach which can yield radically different results from set profiles. This method is a bit more experimental but great fun.

    Having produced thousands of color transparency 4x5 images over the years, I may visualizie a low light scene in terms of Velvia 50 color and contrast - where my ultimate goal is film mimicry. This is where having both 35mm film and digital images for comparison initially to create a Velvia profile might be useful. Some cameras and post processing SW have film profiles. I have not used them.

    Another approach (which works fairly well if there is time and the light is not changing quickly) is to modify the in-camera settings while taking images to tweak them to how you are viewing the scene at that moment, reviewing the initial output on the camera LCD (or a computer screen if you are tethered) to what you are seeing, but shooting in raw, so when you process the raw files, you have a point of reference for color and contrast rather than relying upon visual recall. That's if your goal is accuracy to how your eye recognized the light. That way one is not moving sliders with reckless abandon later.

    Speaking of color accuracy, i have found Nikon's NX-D images output generally more accurate in its standard profiles than comparable PS profiles. Many don't like the NX-D interface.

    So saturation, at least as a starting point, is tied to what i saw not how i might have visualized a variant of the scene (Previsualization). Obviously i am trying to capture what attracts me to a situation, not what i can bring to it. This is where photo illustration departs from more creative impulses (oversaturation as one possibility).

    Note that i very much like to have set profiles to produce Leica or Zeiss color pallette when i'm shooting a DSLR and manufacturer's lenses. Perhaps some SW developers are working in this.
  • PeachBlackPeachBlack Posts: 141Member
    edited January 2017
    I think the general mistake is that people see an amazingly saturated photo that because of light and a number of factors, comes out perfectly and they are dazzled. They become so fascinated by this that they try to make every photo look like this even when it's not appropriate.

    Skin is something that should almost never be oversaturated. It looks terrible. Even in this photo where I played with the blues to create a particular look, I was careful to make sure that the skin wasn't affected, and in fact was desaturated a bit.

    There's a difference between selective saturation for artistic effect and just cranking up the saturation slider. The latter almost always results in blech.

    2

    Post edited by PeachBlack on
  • IronheartIronheart Posts: 3,017Moderator
    edited January 2017
    Glad you mentioned selective saturation/desaturation. The technique can be used to emphasize the subject, and de-emphasize the background. You want "those nice bright colors and greens of summers" but not oompa-loopma people. For a pure landscape or sunset, the "sat" slider can be useful, but if you have a live subject, people or animal, it gets ugly fast.

    I remember your "ballerina in the alley" photo did this as well...
    Post edited by Ironheart on
  • PeachBlackPeachBlack Posts: 141Member
    @Ironheart - yeah... still not a huge fan of those sliders. The problem with selective saturation is that it's not selective enough. Sure you can up the intensity of the blues, but then everything blue goes up. A lot of times things will end up being blue that aren't supposed to be blue, like clouds and concrete and the whites of eyes. There's no easy way to deal with these kinds of mistakes in Lightroom. You just have to use Photoshop and learn how to mask and use techniques like blend-if.
  • heartyfisherheartyfisher Posts: 3,172Member
    edited January 2017
    I usually add saturation or desaturation in post-process depending on the image and the "feel" of the image. I still don't know why I feel like desaturating an image. or not.
    So for me there is rarely any "pre-visualizing" of colours when I take the image.

    In the image below I liked the eye contact and intimate connection between the couple. And since they were on a holiday I somehow wanted to convey that lovely nostalgic "holiday memory" feel, and the saturation went down.

    Maybe I should add a slight sepia tint? Over desaturated? I was wondering if I should remove the handle between them but it seems to connect them.



    (BTW taken with my new Tammy 85 F1.8 !! Yeah, the one from the "why 85mm?" thread! Surprisingly likable lense! )
    Post edited by heartyfisher on
    Moments of Light - D610 D7K S5pro 70-200f4 18-200 150f2.8 12-24 18-70 35-70f2.8 : C&C very welcome!
    Being a photographer is a lot like being a Christian: Some people look at you funny but do not see the amazing beauty all around them - heartyfisher.

  • Rx4PhotoRx4Photo Posts: 1,200Member
    edited January 2017
    For me it's more of a mood and aesthetic thing. How I see the person in the portrait. For the last couple of years I've been occasionally incorporating a 2 tiered technique to my portraits. One being a slight overall desaturation and bringing it back into the skin as PeachBlack mentioned, the second being slightly dragging the lower left side of the RGB curves slope upward to slightly lighten the blacks thus creating a very slight haze to the image. This combination I'll only do on females because it softens up the view a bit and that's not what you tend to want for men.

    There's a regional photographer by the name of Kaunis Hedki who does something similar in many of his commercial and editorial photos and I grew a liking for it. My take on it is - if it's done properly it's not overwhelmingly noticeable.

    untitled

    Edit... hope I didn't mislead anyone with the Kaunis Hedki comment.... this is mine !!!
    Post edited by Rx4Photo on
    D800 | D7000 | Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 70-200mm f/2.8 | 35mm f/1.8G | 85mm f/1.4G | Sigma 35mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 Art | Sigma 50mm f/1.4 EX DG HSM | Zeiss 100mm Makro-Planar ZF.2 | Flash controllers: Phottix Odin TTL

  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
    For special effect in some abandoned buildings, Michigan Ave, Dearborn, Michigan.....supersaturation and other tricks to make the building have life.....

    Michigan_Avenue_IV_01.13.2017_TFL-1
    Msmoto, mod
  • paulrpaulr Posts: 1,176Member
    Saturation and over sharpening have always been subject to overkill in PP, but is this not up to the author, Some people love HDR , fine. The other problem is that sometimes we use a uncalibrated screens which does not show the true colours not mention colour space, depending on what you intend to do with your image view/print, things can change.
    I always smile when at club competitions when mainly new photographers enter with HDR images and an old time Judge condemns then.
    Camera, Lens and Tripod and a few other Bits
  • MsmotoMsmoto Posts: 5,396Moderator
Sign In or Register to comment.